Do you need a new will when you separate from a partner?

Short answer: probably

Divorce or dissolution of civil partnership does not automatically revoke your will like getting married does. If you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership after your will is made, any reference to your former spouse or civil partner will be treated as if he or she had died on the day that the decree absolute or final dissolution order was made. You should seek legal advice in those circumstances.

If you are still married or in a civil partnership with the other person, unless you want your estate to pass to the person from whom you are separated, a new will is the only way to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. Here are two examples:

Without a will

Bob and Julie have been married for five years and have two children. Julie leaves Bob and the children and moves in with Terry. Bob has not yet started divorce proceedings when he dies without a legally valid last will and testament.

Julie would still be first in line to inherit Jack’s money and property according to intestacy laws. Bob could have prevented this by writing and executing a will.

With an out-of-date will

Andy and Mark wrote mirror wills leaving everything to each other after entering a civil partnership. They have since separated and are living with other partners but have not re-written or revoked their wills.

Until the civil partnership is officially dissolved, the wills are still valid: Andy’s possessions would go to Mark and vice versa.

Keep your will up to date

It is important to update your will or create a new will whenever your circumstances chance, for example getting married or entering a civil partnership, getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership, or when you have children.